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The three Ps of nation branding 1

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This s the first of a three-part article.

Branding a nation to greatness involves the successful branding of what I have identified as the 3 Ps.

These are People, Places and Products.

What this basically entails is the application of the branding process to our identity as a people, our cities by way of destination branding, and our products as proudly Nigerian brands.

If we are able to do these successfully, we shall be a great nation.

It may not be as easy as it seems, for each component is a painstaking process requiring dogged commitment and detailed application.

People. This is the first P of nation branding. The reason is simple.

All branding must be people-centred, or in marketing language, consumer-centric.

It is not possible to achieve any sustainable branding without delivering value to the people.

By the same token, you cannot deliver good governance without putting the people first.

Nation building is akin to brand building. The best formula for successful nation building is the application of branding principles.

You do not need to be a brand management expert to do this.

Many great leaders have done it successfully without even knowing that they were applying the principles of branding. It’s simple.

Put the people first and deliver value to them. Successful leaders are those who put the people first.

Successful brands are those that put the people first. Successful nations are those that put their people first.

The best Key Performance Indicator of any government is the social and economic well-being of the people.

This is why we often base the performance of governments on the extent to which there have been improvements in the state of education, healthcare, critical infrastructures, social services and other things that improve the living standard of the people.

Over the years, we have repeatedly recorded disappointing statistics regarding the performance of our leaders.

These indicators have often returned negative results.

Why is this the case? Why do we always end up with the sour taste of disappointment in our mouths after the initial euphoria that greets the assumption of new people to our exalted political offices?

The most curious part of it is that when some leaders assume office with the best intentions they end up falling short of even their own expectations. Why is this often the case?

The problem lies in what we call the brand definition, which involves a detailed articulation of the essence of a brand.

By the same token, the first step to successful nation branding, nay nation building is a proper definition of the people that make up that nation. The question to ask here is:

Who is a Nigerian?

After almost 60 years of nationhood, can we state unequivocally that we have answered this question?

Have we defined the identity of The Nigerian in a simple, concise and acceptable way?

Or are we stuck with a myriad of nebulous definitions which rather than elucidate the subject leave us mired in deeper confusion?

Branding our people begins with a proper definition of who the Nigerian is.

This should be a definition that fills the heart with pride and our consciousness with a strong sense of identity.

The absence of such a definition is the reason many Nigerians are ashamed of being Nigerian.

If indeed there ever was any definition, it must now be redefined, especially in view of recent crises and the deafening clamour for restructuring.

In defining who the Nigerian is, we must be realistic and avoid unduly idealistic definitions which will inevitably leave room for scepticism and distrust.

Such illusive definitions will create an ideal to be pursued but never attained, just like the fantasy of racial equality created by the architects of the American Constitution, which has belligerently stood reality on its head till this day.

Our definition must take cognizance of our diversity and draw upon the strength therein.

Just as South Africa prides herself as the rainbow nation, we must find a way to define our people identity in a way that our diversity becomes a source of pride rather than a source of division.

The absence of this definition has enabled selfish politicians bombard our consciousness with their jaundiced narrative, aimed only at meeting their selfish and primitive objectives.

When we have a national definition of who we are, and campaign it aggressively and persistently, it becomes ingrained in our consciousness and stands strong in stark contradiction to whatever misleading story any selfish politician cooks up to deceive us.

A proper definition will create a sense of belonging in our people and promote the reassurance so desperately lacking in our current national space.

The reassurance that we are all stakeholders in Project Nigeria and the essential value proposition that bonds each citizen to the country will be captured and communicated in this brand definition.

Right now, the Nigerian is like an entity without an identity.

This is why we have been slammed with all kinds of negative identities which has since evolved into a seemingly immortal albatross.

The crushing weight of this albatross has rendered feeble all efforts at national renaissance and personal self-awareness.

It has pushed our people to the nadir of the human race, making many of us run around the world in search of an illusory better identity.

We must articulate a proper definition of who we are, in a way that each and every Nigerian can perceive a value proposition and the tangible benefits that accrues from being a citizen of this country.

It is only by so doing that we can easily enlist the support and contribution of all Nigerians in the arduous task of nation building.

This is a task for the National Orientation Agency, an agency whose functions are clear but whose actions have remained an incomprehensible mystery, because I cannot easily identify any enduring campaign that has had any lasting impact and which has been the brainchild of the agency.

The Federal Government must therefore chart a course for defining who we are as a people and get the relevant agencies to articulate and campaign this essential platform for successful nation building.

•Muyiwa Kayode is CEO at USP Brand Management and author, The Seven Dimensions of Branding.

Brand Nation is a platform for promoting national development based on the universal principles of branding.


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